Thursday, 25 May 2017

Canal du Bourgogne Dijon/Velars/Mouilin Banet/La Bussiere/Fleury/Velars/Dijon/River Soane StJdL/Auxonne

Sunday 7th May
Dijon PK212 to Velars sur Ouche PK202
10km/9 locks/3 hr 35 mins (1 hour delayed at first lock)

When we arrived in Dijon, at our last lock, there was a very helpful eclusier who spoke really good English, and he asked us when we wanted to depart Dijon and we said Sunday ( tomorrow) at 9am.  He said no problem.  So when we arrived at our first lock this morning, there was no sign of a lock keeper and no where to tie up.  So we pulled over the the side and I jumped off the boat and ran up to the lock to see if there was any sign of a lock keeper, or a telephone number to call.  No sign at all of either!  So I then ran back to the lock at Dijon (about 0.75km) to see our friendly eclusier working that lock with another eclusier and a hotel barge was in the lock departing Dijon.  He seemed surprised no one was at that lock for us as he had passed the message on when I had confirmed we were departing at 9am Sunday.  So he drove me back to the lock and he worked the next few locks for us.  We arrived at Velars sur Ouche at 12.30am.

(We have subsequently found out that the telephone number to call is;-
06 82 50 30 10 to contact lock keeper to either book the next mornings lock or if one doesn’t appear even when you have booked one!)

Velars is a really useful mooring as it right by a supermarket and a fuel station.

Monday 8th May
Velars sur Ouche PK212 to Moulin Banet PK189
23km/12 locks/6 hours  

We were moored at Velars within sight of our first lock, so when no lock keeper arrived by 9.10am, I walked up to the lock and found the VNF number to call if there were any problems on a poster.   The man on the end of the line told me “Il arrive” and about 5 minutes later a lock keeper did arrive.  He took us to Pont du Pany lock 38 and said we could moor in the lock for lunch and a lock keeper would be there at 13.00.  By 13.20 no lock keeper had arrived so we phoned our special number and 15 minutes later a different lock keeper arrived.  We were moored up at Moulin Banet by 3.15pm.  It turned out to be a pleasant evening after a grey day.  A large hotel barge arrived and moored up at Moulin Banet for the evening.

Tuesday 9th May
Moulin Banet PK189 to La Bussière PK179.5
9.5km/8 locks/2hrs 45 mins

The weather improved today and we had a lovely trip to La Bussière and we were moored up by 11.45am.  We had a relaxing afternoon and enjoyed a bottle of bubbly in the evening to celebrate my birthday.  The weather was forecast to be a beautiful day tomorrow so we booked a belated birthday lunch at L’Abbaye de la Bussière so that we could eat on their patio overlooking their beautiful grounds.

Two hotel barges arrived in the afternoon on Tuesday; there was just enough room for us all.  There are no notices saying when the hotel barges are arriving but they tend to be mid-week.

We enjoyed a relaxing few days at La Bussière/La Forge mooring; it’s a really beautiful spot.  I love hearing all the birds singing their hearts out, and the odd cuckoo calling.

There are new electric and water bournes installed at the very smart moorings.  There is a hand written note left by some thoughtful boater saying that you can pay at the Café or the Marie.  Kev went to the Marie (town hall) after our lunch at the hotel on Wednesday to be told he needed to go to the café but it was closed Monday until Thursday!  We found out that the owner of the café in La Forge is also the Mayor. When Kev went to the café on Thursday morning, Kev was told to meet him at the Marie at La Bussière at 3pm where we could purchase a card to enable us to use the electric and water. We bought 2kw of electric for 30 euros and 500 litres of water for 6 euros.  When we left on Sunday morning and we had used up all our electric allowance but we had done loads of washing, tumble drying, dishwashering, and used the electric oven to try and use it up! Saying that it did seem rather expensive.

Dressed up smart for our lunch at La Bussiére (although you don't really need to!)

We were there early to make the most of the beautiful place
it did busier!

They are left to roam the grounds, and are very friendly
The ponies came up to our table before we had ordered our lunch and
Kev said to the owner of the hotel "I couldn't eat a whole one!"
Luckily the owner is English so understood what Kev meant!


Sunday 14th May
La Bussière PK 179.5 to Fleury sur Ouche PK197
17.5km/16 locks/6 hrs 50 mins

We had a great trip to Fleury sur Ouche, it was a long day but luckily the thunderstorms that were forecast in the afternoon did not materialize until the evening.  It did rain during the day but only at lunchtime when we were moored up in Moulin Banet Lock 34.

Kev had hoped to be able to watch the F1 highlights that evening but we couldn’t get a TV signal where we had moored.

It really is a beautiful canal

Moored in lock 34 Moulin Banet for lunch
Storm clouds looming

Monday 15th May
Fleury sur Ouche PK197 to Velars sur Ouche PK202.5
5.5km/4 locks/1 hr 20mins

We had a nice short cruise to get to Velars to our favourite spot by the supermarket.  So we did a big shop at the supermarket and we were able to take the shopping trolley right to the boat so perfect for any heavy things we had purchased, wine boxes, milk etc.  We were joined by a hireboat on its way downstream for the evening and a wide beam barge called Avalon arrived going up stream.  It is starting to get a little busier on the canal.

Tuesday 16th May
Velars sur Ouche PK202.5 to Dijon PK212.5
10km/9 locks/3 hrs 30 mins

We were surprised when the hire boat didn’t leave at the same time as us in the morning; we’d booked the first lock for 9am and assumed they would have been asked to lock with us.  But after two locks the eclusiers had realised that we could fit in the lock together so we were asked to wait at lock 48 for the hire boat to join us.  It made sense and we also then had two lady lock keepers to work the locks so it speeded things up, as one of them was particularly slow!  We arrived at Dijon by 12.30.  The quay was empty but by the evening it had filled up.  Millie, a Piper barge with owners John and Gill onboard arrived in the afternoon and we had a couple of evening’s pre dinner drinks together, which was very enjoyable.  They are on their way to DBA Rally in Auxerre.

The new electric/water bournes at Dijon are still not working, nowhere to buy the jetons required.  We tried the Marie and the tourist office in the centre of the city and we were given the telephone number of the captiniere; when we finally got through to him and asked him if the electric points were working yet he said NON! It seems such a shame for the huge investment not to be able to use them and give the port some revenue.

We’ve had some nice walks into the city, it is a lovely place, and we really like it.  I had a lovely run up by the canal to the Lake, we had a lunch in town, which was ok, but not fabulous but the weather was perfect so we were able to sit outside.  Kev also had his haircut at a hairdresser and the owner speaks really good English so no short back and sides this time around!!  I think when Kev asks for not to be cut off to a hairdresser in France who doesn’t speak English, he uses his fingers to give an idea of how little he wants cut off, and they think its how long he wants it to be!!

We have heavy rain today (Friday) and its quite chilly again but it is forecast to be better then for the next three days.  We’ve booked the lock at 9am on Sunday (lets hope the message was passed on this time!) and we will take two days to get to St Jean de Losne arriving on Monday.  We’ve then booked Auxonne marina for Weds/Thursday, to start our trip up the Soane/Petit Soane, once we get past Grey it will be pastures new for us.

Piper barge Milly moored up behind us for a couple of evenings, they are on their way to Auxerre

I didn't know Herons did Yoga!

Sunday 21st May
Dijon PK 212 to Longcourt PK228
16km/14 locks/6.5 hrs inc 1 hour for lunch

We rang VNF yesterday evening just to confirm we were leaving Sunday morning at 9am. We were ready at 9am to depart Dijon, but a hotel barge called Danielle was locked first and then when the lock keepers tried to set the lock for us one of the gates wouldn’t close so they had to call the fire brigade (Pompiers) and a diving team arrived to sort out the problem.  It was a car wheel complete with it's tyre, blocking the gate.  So we finally departed at 11.30am and we had to have lunch in the second lock as they had to go for lunch, so a short mornings cruise!  We shared locks with a lovely New Zealand couple on a new to them, cruiser, called Soltana.  We moored in a shaded mooring at Longcourt.  We just caught up Danielle at Longcourt so it was just as well we set off later from Dijon.   The section of canal  up near Dijon was still quite weedy so we were pleased to be finally past that section to clearer water.
You can just make out the divers in their diving gear

Monday 22nd May
Longcourt PK228 to St Jean De Losne
14km/8 locks/4 hours

We had a great trip to St Jean de Losne and we were lucky enough to get a mooring on the quay again at SJdL
We decided to stay at SJdL until Wednesday morning.  The big hotel ship Avalon Affinity arrived Monday evening and departed around 6.15pm Tuesday with a new set of passengers.  Around 6.30pm a young man with a holdall came rushing over to us while we were sitting on the back deck.  He showed us his phone and an email with an address on Quai National, St Jean de Losne ......we said yes, that’s where he was, he then said the word Avalon Afffinity, and we said it's gone/departed/left here 20 mins ago….he said “Oh my God!!!  Where can I get a taxi?”  So we presumed he was a new crew member joining the ship, we pointed him in the direction of the nearest restaurant on the quay to see if they could help him arrange a taxi.  I do hope he got united with his ship in the end and wasn’t in too much trouble.

Wednesday 24th May
St Jean de Losne PK 215 to Auxonne PK 233.5
18.5km/1 lock/2 hrs 30 mins

We had a fantastic trip to Auxonne.  Beautiful sunny weather, only one lock to negotiate and we were moored up by 11.15am at Port Royal.  John the new harbormaster was very welcoming and we have a brilliant mooring on a very friendly pontoon. 

We had ordered online a SIM card to arrive at Port Royal and it was there waiting for us.  It took us a little while to set up our Ipad with the SIM.  Why is it if you have problems with something not working, on a computer, ipad, iphone, if you switch it off and switch it back on again it solves the problem 9 times of of 10?!!!  We now have 100gb of data each month and already we are pleased with the speed of the connection, hence the update on the blog.

Our one lock of the day, automatic

Arriving at Port Royal, Auxonne

Our view from the back deck over looking the river Soane

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Canal du Bourgogne St Jean de Losne to Dijon

Friday 5th May
25.5km/19 locks/8hrs and 30 mins
St Jean de Losne to PK 217.5 on the Canal du Bourgone

We’d moved back onto the quay at St Jean d Losne on Wednesday as the mooring we had in the port was only really supposed to be for the weekend. It’s lovely being back on the river.  On Thursday evening we were joined by 4 boats of various sizes that we knew from Roanne. 

A beautiful evening moored on the Quay at St Jean de Losne
On Friday we woke up to a very, very foggy morning.  It luckily cleared enough for us to feel safe to travel the small distance to the lock to take us up back into the port and onto the Canal du Bourgogne.  We’d booked the lock for 9am and we were out by 9.10am.  A good start as we had decided we’d like to try and get to Dijon in one day.  The weather forecast was for a beautiful sunny day but the forecast for tomorrow was for rain.

This was clearer than it had been

The quay with the fog clearing

We were glad to be getting off the river, the visibility was very poor

Marie and Guy on Sinfonia setting off for their travels 

Guy taking a photo of me taking a photo of him!

We had a great trip because of the weather, once the fog had cleared but the section of canal near to Dijon is suffering from weed and this slowed down our progress somewhat.  It was like going through a thick soup, and at times with weed wrapped around the propeller we found stopping in the locks rather a challenge.  At 6.10pm we got to two locks away form Dijon and our lock keeper said that he could take us no further.  He said he lived in St Jean de Losne and had to travel back on the moped.  The locks are supposed to close at 7pm.  So we tied up at not such a pretty mooring, a port full of barges, and next to what looks like a cement works in a commercial area and the port was full of weed.  But the welcome we had from barges that were moored there permanently was lovely.  They knew Marie and Guy off Sinfonia another Piper barge (who we’d seen this morning).  So rather than being moored up  in beautiful Dijon, where we’d hoped for a nice dinner in the city, in the sunshine, we sat on the back deck and we opened a bottle of Cremant du Bourgogne and relaxed as the sun went down; realising that we would probably been too tired to go out for dinner tonight anyway!!

It turned out to be a beautiful day

The canal is dead straight from St Jean to Dijon and can be accused of being boring but the sunshine
and the colours of the rape seed fields helped make it very attractive

It was so weedy in some parts, it really made Rangali feel very sluggish

A weed muncher!  We hope that it will help with the weed problem by the time we return in about a weeks time
We had to wait for this to come down in the lock before we could enter

This lot was wrapped around our prop

Saturday 6th May
PK217.5 to Dijon
3km/2 locks/1 hour

We woke up to grey skies, but luckily still dry.  We hadn’t booked the next lock so weren’t in too much of a rush, but we were ready to move off around 8.45am.  Luckily there was a nearby VNF office and Kev went off to see if we could book the next lock, only to find they were expecting us at 9am, so perfect.  We set off and we were moored up in Dijon by 10.15am.

We showered and went in search of lunch and found a very nice place called Le Bistro de L’Admiral.  It didn’t look much from the outside but I’d read it had great reviews on Trip Advisor and we had a very nice set 2 course lunch for 14.50 euros each.  It started to drizzle while we were having lunch, so we had a quick walk around old Dijon, and then made our way back to the port.  We then went to do a little shopping at the nearby supermarket to find it had closed and a new store had opened up about 500m further away.  Its great shopping by foot as you can only buy what you can carry. So no impulse purchases!  By the time we got back to Rangali, it had started to really rain so we have spent a relaxing afternoon reading, etc.